Top critical review
FILLED with factual errors that ruin the reading experience for natives of Middle Tennessee
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 22, 2020
The issues with the setting of this book ruined it for me. Without them, I likely would have rated it a 4, although the two storylines were largely disconnected until they awkwardly crashed together and connected at the end. It was very disconnected and probably would have read better with one storyline. I'm not sure the second was necessary. Now about the issues...
It's extremely obvious Mary Burton is not familiar with Nashville and picked the location at random. For someone who is not from the area, there are no issues. For someone who is, they are glaringly obviously and almost resulted in me putting down the book. I had such a huge list from just the Prologue that it became a running joke with my friends to see how many more I would run across and that is the only thing that kept me motivated enough to read the story. It's possible Ms. Burton was taking creative liberties with some of the names, but with so many other details that were factual, it did not read well. Natives know the places being described and understand the wrong terminology/locations have been used.
1. There is no area called the Bottoms. There is a Shelby Bottoms, but it is farther north and does not feature hookers and drug dealers. The area being described as being between the 24/65 split and the airport is Murfreesboro Rd, and that is how is referred to by locals. It is SE of downtown and connects to the airport area from the south. This area strangely moved to East Nashville toward the end of the story.
2. There is no Mission in that area. although the Mission might have been a made up entity, when you say the Mission to a native, their thoughts immediately go to the Nashville Rescue Mission, which is a fabulous organization in downtown Nashville, on Lafayette Street, on the other side of the 24/65 split from where it is supposed to be in the story. There is a Reverend on staff, not a Priest, and the language regarding the specific religious seems to flip-flop in the story. It is not common place for the Mission staff to be on the streets interacting with the homeless community. Outreach groups primarily handle that process. The Mission is in need of an expansion to handle all the people who need them now and willingly come to their doors. They don't have space to invite in others.
3. There are no mountains in Nashville. Nashville sits in a huge basin. There are foothills east of Nashville and the Highland Rim borders the NW, N, and NE areas of the basin. There are zero hills in the area tall enough to incorporate multiple switchbacks as described in the story. There are definitely no hills that large anywhere along the length of Highway 25, which is specifically mentioned in the story.
4. Locals would NEVER refer to the interstate loop downtown as The Beltway. It's the east bank, west side, and old 265 for those who have been here our entire lives.
5. While the building is technically on RS Gass Blvd, the TBI Building is referred to as being "off Ellington at Hart." It does not overlook the old children's home. There is the ME building, a hill, and a whole bunch of trees between the two.
6. Metro Nashville is incorporated and the Nashville Police Department patrols the entire county. The Davidson County Sheriff's Department does not investigate accidents. They are almost entirely a warrants and corrections division. They find the bad guys for the PD, lock them up, and keep them there.
7. The Smoky Mountains are at least 3.5 hours east of Nashville, often longer depending on traffic, not "a couple of hours" as stated in the book.
My advice is to not mix factual with created facts. I was looking forward to reading a novel set in Nashville, but the factual errors ruined it for me. The details should have been 100% factual or completely made up, not a mix, even if deliberate. There was definitely a breakdown in fact-checking and research in this novel.